The Pedestrian started its life as a side project, intended to be used as a method of learning game development. Although 7 years later and after many successful showings along the way, the game has undergone a Cinderella-like transformation, turning into one of the most uniquely presented puzzle games I have ever seen.
What’s the premise? You play as The Pedestrian, a 2D silhouette who moves along various 2D planes within a living 3D world. Moving from sign to sign, your stick figure man will solve puzzles and go on a wordless journey throughout the town.
The game’s puzzles rely on the player moving in and out of control of The Pedestrian. You’ll come across sets of signs, plaques, or other contained 2D fields that you can shift around the environment and link together. Two doors linked together will grant an open doorway, for instance. When the set of puzzle pieces have been arranged properly you can retake control of the titular character and progress through the links you’ve just connected. This is the basic idea behind The Pedestrian, however when you start taking into consideration switches, power, multi-chained puzzles, and environmental elements, you can begin to see where this concept can get complicated.
As a puzzle game The Pedestrian is pretty effective. The entire experience is wordless so all problem solving, as well as the actual mechanics of the game, are taught entirely through icons and player observation. I’ll be honest the game stumped me quite a few times. But persistence and the ability to look at things differently was key to overcoming any obstacle. The puzzles in the game could get pretty daunting at times. I think the best puzzle games are the ones that are able to challenge the way a player thinks or perceives any given puzzle, forcing players to have that eureka moment when things finally fall into place. Whilst The Pedestrian definitely has elements of this, the game also relied on larger interconnected puzzles that made you think multiple steps ahead at any given time. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it did make trying to solve some of the game’s larger puzzles incredibly daunting.
Certainly the best aspect of The Pedestrian is its presentation. You’ll notice it immediately after watching a trailer or playing for 5 minutes. This game has an attention to background detail that is incredible. A simple 2D puzzle game that’s taking place in a living and breathing 3D world. You won’t get bogged down in 1 location for too long either, with The Pedestrian going on journeys that will take them all over the landscape. The beauty of the game’s penultimate area, Rooftops, was actually quite breathtaking. It’s actually all quite gorgeous to look at, and makes this puzzle game feel like a journey. It’s not just set dressing either, because the backgrounds can play a pivotal role within the actual puzzle solving too.
The juxtaposition between the background environments and your 2D puzzle planes is fantastic. On top of this, The Pedestrian will travel from signs, to plaques, to paper, to chalkboards and more – the 2D art is simple but captivating. There’s also a Toy Story-like charm to the idea that a stick figure on a sign can go on a wondrous journey whilst nobody is looking. It all ties together with an elegant musical score too that helps to reinforce the beauty of the game.
The Pedestrian makes for a really engaging puzzle game. It’s simple yet challenging and remarkably detailed. The final sequences of the game are incredibly rewarding too, and came as a satisfying surprise. There’s definitely a level of quality you wouldn’t expect from a game that was made with the intention of learning game development. Are there better puzzle designs to be found in other games out there? Yeah, I suppose so. But the presentation and uniqueness of this title clearly sets it apart from the herd.